What you need to know about the seismic building code regulations in QLD, Australia.  

BVT Managing Director, Matt Bishop, and Business Development Manager, Josh Nightingale, visited the Australian Eastern-Seaboard earlier this month to speak with key industry stakeholders about the present day regulatory landscape and the challenges faced as a result of enforced seismic compliance.  

At present, the shift in focus is most significantly being felt in QLD with the QBCC taking a hard line on the matter, stating that seismic has always been included in the code and should therefore be complied. Whilst some manufacturers and contractors who work in or supply to NZ are already well-versed in seismic requirements, there are many industry members who are seeing this code for the first time.

The great news is, it’s not as bad as you might think. The shift in focus has indeed triggered a scare campaign, but the adjustments required may be more moderate than what is depicted in the media. For some, it should be an easy transition, whilst others may experience quite a change in process. Here are our key findings; 

QLD Wind-load designs assist compliance:

QLD interior designs often allow for high wind due to cyclonic risk. Therefore, walls are often governed by wind pressure design and it's quite likely that your typical partition wall will not change when the seismic design considerations are included. Ceilings, however, are a different story. The key seismic design actions act horizontally, therefore the same solutions applied in NZ will be required. Again, due to the relatively low seismic actions, we don’t expect major changes to back-braced ceilings. Moving forward, it is essential to consider both partitions and ceilings loads for seismic. Fortunately, this is a smaller change than most would expect. 

Additional Coordination is required:

Whilst the design materials don’t alter too much, you do, however, require a considerably larger amount of coordination across services, which is why it is essential to consider seismic at early stage design. Planning and sequencing will prevent hindsight costs, so we encourage you to engage us early on to help mitigate any issues. Unfortunately, if you are at the 98th percentile of your project and haven’t considered seismic in your designs, it is probably going to hurt and we have seen this happen on numerous occasions in the New Zealand construction industry. 

The responsibility lies with contractors: 

From a sub-contractor’s point of view, the changes won’t be significantly different. The responsibility for seismic has typically fallen back on suppliers and manufacturers and whilst they are able to supply design information for their systems, it may not include the detailed design you require to ensure the systems work in the project. Therefore, it is essential for contractors to consider seismic design in the construction contract for interiors.

From our time on the ground in Australia, we observed that everyone is quite engaged in this matter and keen to learn more about how seismic requirements impacts their designs. Having seen this highly complex issue play out in New Zealand, we understand that a change in process can cause temporary disruption and confusion. As interior engineering specialists who have worked across thousands of compliance and consent projects in New Zealand, we are committed to supporting the Australian industry through this change. 

Whether it’s a simple phone call, in-house training and assistance or project designs and Form 15s, both Matt Bishop and Josh Nightingale are available to assist and will gladly take part in any industry discussion on the matter. 


In partnership with the AWCI, we’re pleased to be hosting a free seismic information evening open to all industry members in Brisbane. Our expert team of engineers will address seismic code requirements in detail and discuss what it takes to ensure compliance in today's highly regulated environment.

On top of three hours of drinks, canapés, networking and informative discussion, we're also offering a free 45 minute consultation to all attendees. RSVPs essential. To see full event details, click the button below.